Politics

Thursday 31 July 2014

What in the name of BOD is happening? TDs accused of plot

FIONNAN SHEAHAN Group Political Editor

Published 30/03/2014|02:30

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The picture posted on Twitter

PARANOID ministers were concerned rebel Fine Gael backbenchers were planning to publicly express concerns about Justice Minister Alan Shatter last week.

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The false alarm was caused by two Fine Gael TDs innocently leaving the Dail to attend a government reception for the Six Nations winning Ireland rugby team.

But an inaccurate report on social media concluding there was a secret meeting of a group of FG TDs even reached Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Ministers were worried such a plot would exacerbate the crisis and cause further instability.

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, after Mr Shatter's badly received statement on the garda taping scandal, which was perceived to be antagonistic.

As a result, there were concerns Mr Shatter would not deliver on the expected apology to the garda whistleblowers for claiming they didn't co-operate with a garda penalty points investigation.

Four members of the so-called Fine Gael five-a-side club – a group of young party TDs who have aligned themselves together and discuss policy – were seen leaving Leinster House in quick succession on Wednesday afternoon.

But two of the TDs, Brendan Griffin and Paul Connaughton, were heading in one car to the removal of the late Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

And the two TDs in another car, Eoghan Murphy and Tony Lawlor, were going to Farmleigh House for the rugby reception being hosted by ministers Leo Varadkar and Michael Ring.

The departures were wrongly reported on social media as the Fine Gael TDs heading to a secret meeting on the crisis.

"There was a level of paranoia. That scared the senior ministers. It was even shared with the Taoiseach," a source told the Sunday Independent.

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe had to calm the horses as he was aware of the Fine Gael TDs' movements and knew who was gone to the funeral and to Farmleigh.

Mr Murphy initially responded to the speculation with a photo of the event on Twitter and joked about the conspiracy.

"We're all here – very sinister. BOD (Brian O'Driscoll) in on the act too," he said on Twitter.

Mr Murphy and Mr Lawlor also posed for a photo at the event, which was sent out by Fine Gael Councillor Neale Richmond with the caption: "Found two of them in Farmleigh."

But on their return to Leinster House later that day, ministers told the innocent Fine Gael TDs there was a belief for about an hour that they were plotting against Mr Shatter.

"They would have got their arses kicked," a minister said.

But a member of the group said there wasn't even talk of a meeting at any point and the misunderstanding arose from the incorrect report.

"You don't want to be tagged as disloyal. There was no question of calling a meeting," a source said.

Sunday Independent

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